In just days I, Dave Barend, will “fit in”. No, I haven’t read, “The Idiot’s Guide To Basic Social Skills.” Actually, it’s you who are going to change. On March 15, aka Selection Sunday, you will become crazy for college hoops. And then (brace yourselves) you will be just like me.
My short period of acceptance allows me to sympathize with another group of outcasts – female exhibitionists. You know, women who yearn to display their bare breasts. Just as they have Mardi Gras, I have March Madness.
This temporary feeling of non-lunacy leads me to conclude that Selection Sunday is by far the best event of the year. That’s right, even better than Christmas. I get 65 gifts on Selection Sunday – all wrapped in beautiful brackets. On Christmas I’m lucky to get 5. And none of them are even as good as Murray State. Last year, my wife actually gave me a scale. Imagine if I gave her a scale. I’d have been spending Christmas night in the EconoLodge. Yeah, Selection Sunday beats the hell out of Christmas.
Selection Sunday is also better than:
Thanksgiving - because mother-in-law is not in attendance.
The 4th of July - because I always forget when that is.
Kwanzaa, - because, well, I don't really know what that is.
Easter - because I don't feel guilty for not giving up something for Lent.
Boxing Day - because I don't box.
Memorial Day - because I'm not dead.
It's even better than sex. As a married guy I feel comfortable labeling sex as an "event" - a rare one at that. Which reminds me, I guess I have given up something for Lent.
“Wait a minute. How can Selection Sunday be better than the actual Tournament?” Because with Selection Sunday comes hope. The hope that you got the picks right and you are going to win the pool. With the actual games comes – dashed hope. For me, this usually happens by the afternoon of day one.
Why do I care so much about hope? Well, I’m a 40-year old guy whose last gasp at a chance of happiness is hinging to the success of the most pathetic form of entertainment – a blog. So, yeah, I’m a pretty big fan of hope. Or as my buddy Gary likes to say, “Hope is incredible.” Though I should probably reveal he’s referring to an old girlfriend with impressive flexibility.
Amazingly, I almost missed Selection Sunday a few years ago. It was a half hour before the CBS Selection Show and my wife was in bed with a slight case of double pneumonia. She started having a bad reaction to her medication. If I remember correctly it was something trivial like not being able to breathe. So it was up to me to get the new prescription. I tried to hide my utter lack of enthusiasm, but she saw right through me. I guess I shouldn’t have asked, “Do you really think you’ll die if I don’t go?
I got to the store, grabbed the new meds, and then hopped in my car. As I drove toward the exit I noticed another car waiting to leave, but no traffic. I tried to remain calm. Not my forte. I told myself to count to 10. Yeah, I made it to 4, said “Screw it!” and laid on the horn like a Brazilian after a World Cup victory. Car still didn’t move. But the car behind me did. Or more accurately, the cruiser behind me.
As the officer pulled up, I thought, “Great, he’ll get this moron going.” That thought terminated when the cop stopped his pursuit next to me.
“What’s the big rush?”
“Hey officer. Uh, it’s Selection Sunday and the pairings are coming out in a few minutes. I really don’t want to miss it. Any chance you want to give me an escort home?”
In hindsight, that wasn’t a wise request. But I still don’t think it warranted field sobriety tests. Thank God I’m proficient at reciting the alphabet.
I made it home with 5 minutes to spare. I clicked my garage door opener and – nothing. I yelled, “Are you kidding me!!” There was no reply.
I parked in the driveway and booked it to the front door. It was then that a prior conversation with my wife ran through my head
Wife: You should really put a key to the front door on your key chain.
Me: I don’t need a key. I always go through the garage.
Wife: What if your opener breaks?
Me: That’s never going to happen
So I stood there and contemplated incessantly ringing the doorbell. That would have resulted in our baby waking up, my deathly ill wife opening the door, and my very painful castration. I decided to go with option 2 – walk around the house and pray one of the back doors was open.
Yet another prayer unanswered. As I walked back to the front of the house I reassessed the value of my cojones. I then noticed a slightly open window. This led to an immediate reaction of: “Oh my God! We must have wasted a fortune on heat!” It eventually dawned on me that there was another way of viewing the open window - my ticket to see the Selection Show.
This and other potential fiascos can be avoided by correctly preparing for Selection Sunday far in advance:
1. Get Rations – From the time the brackets are reveled on Selection Sunday till noon the following Thursday all of your free time will be spent making your picks. That is if you’re like me. And since we’ve already established that you will be, you need to stock up pronto. This past week I filled my grocery cart with a bunch of DiGiorno pizzas. At the behest of my daughters, I also threw in a couple boxes of Hanna Montana cereal – and simultaneously threw away the last vestiges of my manhood. The emasculation continued when I got in line behind two muscle heads. They seemed lees than convinced when I claimed that Hanna’s cereal was actually chunks of steak.
2. Decorate – Yes, you should truly decorate your home to get in the Selection Sunday Spirit. Every year my wife makes a huge set of brackets that we hang on the wall. Pretty good sign of her love for me, huh? Yeah, not so much. First time she made one was when we were engaged. My buddy Scotty was there and he said, “I guarantee this doesn’t happen when you’re married.” Well, Scotty was wrong. But my wife doesn’t continue making the big brackets out of love. Nope, it’s totally out of spite. In fact, every single year when she’s drawing them up, I can hear her ever so quietly say to herself, “Screw you, Scotty.”
3. Learn Bracketology – There are people who have made entire careers out of trying to figure out what the bracket pairings will be before they are announced on Selection Sunday. They call themselves “bracketologists”. And I believe in high school they were called Dungeon Masters.
I, however, prefer to try to figure out how the brackets will look like when the tournament’s over. You know, so I can win the pool. That just doesn’t seem to work out.
Last year, the picks were due in 30 minutes and I still hadn’t even completed my Elite 8. It was then that I realized that assessing whether #16 seeded Portland State could knock off #1 Kansas shouldn’t have taken 5 hours.
But no need to panic. I had a half-hour to finish with nobody home to bother me. And then - my youngest daughter walked in. Yeah, I kind of forgot about her. (That might have an impact on my nomination for father of the year.)
She looked at me and said, “Poo-poo in the potty.” At that point I noticed that she was half-naked and displayed evidence that at least the first part of her claim was valid.
As we trucked to the bathroom, I looked in her little potty chair and found – nothing. Yet there undoubtedly had been a poo-poo. This begged the question, “Where the hell is the damn poo-poo?”
So my daughter and I then went on a quest. A quest to find the poo-poo. It was kind of like our own little Easter egg hunt. Well, more like an Easter egg hunt sponsored by the guys from South Park. Not quite one of those Father-Daughter Hallmark moments.
First stop was my bedroom and, more specifically, my side of the bed. Nothing. Thank God.
As we went from room to room, she kept saying “Poo-poo in potty.” Maybe I missed it. We cruised back to the bathroom and confirmed that her potty chair was empty. She then pointed to the toilet and said “Poo-poo in potty.” I looked inside and exclaimed, “Holy sh!t. In the potty. Wait till we tell Mommy. She is going to be so proud.” Apparently my daughter had used her potty as a stool and climbed right up. Lucky for me she did not fall in. Might have been a bummer watching the Tournament with the folks at Social Services.
Moments later my wife arrived and my daughter ran to tell her the news. “Mommy. Mommy. Look. Look. Holy sh!t in potty.” Mommy was not so proud of Daddy.
Since I had about 3 minutes till the deadline, I decided to reward my daughter by letting her make my final picks. And miraculously I won the pool. Really? No, not really. But I had hope. All of you can have hope too. And it all starts on the greatest day of the year- Selection Sunday.
Take it easy,
Dave Barend's humorous take on college basketball will be appearing weekly on CHN.
Check back Monday for a set of weekly Rankings and Irrelevant Comments. If you'd like to submit your choice for the most overrated or underrated team of the week, email me at email@example.com by Saturday.